If you’re looking for simple, convenient ways to accept payments, Square is a solid option.
The company has been in business since 2009 and now processes payments for millions of businesses all over the world. It also offers additional services like their Cash app—to easily send and receive funds—and their point-of-sale application for merchants.
Within the financial services world, Square is now mentioned in blogs and conversation against industry giants like PayPal. And righteously so as the company doesn’t charge a monthly fee for processing payments, and there are no cancellation, inactivity and chargeback fees.
But what kind of fees do they charge?
In general, Square charges 4 key types of payment processing fees, and in this article, we’ll walk you through these fees. We'll also cover POS fees and fees for services like Square for Restaurants, Square for Retail, Square Online Store, Marketing, Payroll, etc.
Remember that cross-border payments are not possible with Square. For this, you can use an alternative like Wise Business. It’s the only account you need to go global.
With Wise Business, you get all the features you need to set up accounts in other countries—regardless of where you’re located. From there, you can send and receive money abroad quickly and cheaply at the mid-market rate.
|📝 Table of contents|
The biggest advantage for Square is the fact that there are no hidden fees when processing payments. You only pay a flat transaction fee when the customer pays with a debit or credit card.
However, there are varying fees depending on how you process the payment, and we’ll break down these key fees in the sections below. These are the means of accepting payments:
- Card Present transactions
- Manual entry
- Online payments
- Square Register
Square deducts these fees before funds are transferred into your linked account, so they cannot be paid on a monthly basis. However, you can view your total monthly fees on the Square dashboard.
Scenario: This is a ‘Card-present Transaction’, meaning the customer’s card is present and swipes, taps, or dips their card using Square’s card reader.
|Fee: 2.6 % + 10¢¹|
Here are the possible means of payment that incurs this fee:
- Swiped magstripe cards
- Swiped/inserted chip cards
- Contactless (NFC)
- Prepaid Gift cards
- POS API
- Square Terminal
- Square Virtual terminal
Scenario: You're away from the reader and need to enter the details manually using the Square app or online Square dashboard virtual terminal.
In this scenario, the customer may not be present, so it’s regarded as a riskier form of payment. And so, the fee is higher.
|Fee: 3.5% + 15¢¹¹|
Here are the possible means of payment with Manual Entry & Virtual Terminal:
- Card on File
- Manually Keyed-in payment using the Square API or Virtual Terminal
Scenario: You want to accept a payment online.
|Fee: 2.9% + 30¢¹|
Here are some possible means of payment online:
- Square Invoices
- Square Online Store
- Partnership / Developer API
- eCommerce Card on File payments
Square Register is Square’s version of a fully-integrated POS system.
This product includes their payment processing services, back office software, and a physical register—hardware. The register itself is a two screen system that allows you or employees to ring up items or services on one screen and then the customer can run their payment on the other.
The product allows you to pull the hardware out of the box and start processing payments with little set-up.
Scenario: This is another ‘Card-present Transaction’, so the customer’s card is present and swipes, taps, or dips their card using Square Register.
|Fee: 2.5% + 10¢ if you purchased your Square Register before August 20th, 2019.¹ The fee is 2.6% + 10¢ for Square Register systems purchased after that date.²|
Keep in mind that the fees processed using Square Register take fees from the total amount processed, which includes tax and tip. So if you own a food truck and charge $10 for a burger and fries and then process another $5 in taxes and tip, the fee calculates from the $15 total.
There are three possible means of payment using Square Register:
- Contactless payments through Square Register
- Card chip payments through Square Register
- Swiped payments through Square Register
Here’s a summary of the fees we’ve covered:
|Square Reader||2.6 % + 10¢¹|
|Square Manual Entry & Virtual Terminal||3.5% + 15¢¹|
|Square Online Payment||2.9% + 30¢¹|
2.5% + 10¢ purchased before August 20th, 2019
2.6% + 10¢ purchased after²
Cross-border payments are not possible with Square, so you can’t take your hardware outside of your account’s set country and process a payment. If that is necessary to your business model, Wise Business is a great alternative!
|💡 With a Wise Business account, you can do multi-currency banking without the bank. Set up account details for over 55 currencies and move money between the accounts instantly. Wise business can also help you invoice payments up to 19x cheaper and streamline those payments all in one click.|
Moving away from the payment processing fees, this is an overview of the fees for the devices—hardware—offered by Square. There is no monthly fee for payment processing with Square, but there are some one-time fees to get the necessary hardware.
Square offers two types of card readers that allow you to process payments via swipe, dip, or tap. These devices work through supported devices—smartphone or tablet—and are not tied to a specific Square account. Also, the devices do not store customer information, so don’t worry if they’re lost or stolen.
The magstripe reader is free when you set up a Square account and $10 for a replacement. The Contactless and Chip Card Reader runs for $49 through the Square store.³ They’re also available at some other major retailers.
Note that the Contactless and Chip Card Reader needs to be charged for it to work, but the magstripe reader runs directly from your smartphone or tablet.
Square offers three countertop POS solutions for businesses. There are some key differences between the products, but they’re also not tied to a specific Square account and do not store customer information.
The Square Register works as a standalone device and is an all-in-one product. It offers two connectivity options through Wi-Fi or Ethernet and allows for speedier checkout times via its display screens and faster processing speeds. The device is also more secure as it doesn’t allow 3rd party applications.
The Square Register is $799 total or $39/month for 24 months.²
The Square Terminal also works as a standalone device that doesn’t require additional hardware. Like the Register, the Terminal doesn’t allow 3rd party applications, so this adds an additional layer of security to the device. It also has both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity.
Square markets the product as being able to process chip cards in as little as two seconds.⁴
The Square Terminal runs for $299.00 or $27/month with financing.⁵
Square Stand for Contactless and Chip
The Square Stand is not a standalone device and requires a compatible iPad to run the contactless and chip device. Because it runs via an iPad, you have the ability to use 3rd party apps along with the Square app.
Current Stand models run with the iPad (2020, 2019), iPad Air (2019), and iPad Pro 10.5”, but it’s possible for you to use an older iPad—the price is still the same. With the Stand, you can plug it into an AC outlet, and it will charge your iPad also.
The Square Stand for Contactless and Chip runs for $169 or $16/month with financing. However, that price doesn’t include the cost of a compatible iPad. Square does offer iPads in their online store.⁶
Here’s a price breakdown of Square’s hardware:
|Square Magstripe Reader||Free with account signup or $10 per additional device.³|
|Square Contactless and Chip Card Reader||$49³|
|Square Register||$799 total or $39/month for 24 months²|
|Square Terminal||$299.00 or $27/month with financing.⁵|
|Square Stand for Contactless and Chip||$169 or $16/month with financing. Compatible iPad not included.⁶|
Along with their standard products and hardware, Square also offers pricing specific to the retail and restaurant industries due to their high volume of transactions. They also offer appointment scheduling and payment processing cross service for professional services who work via appointment—massage, hair salon, repair, etc.
If you run a retail business then you may want to look into Square for Retail to help process your in-store and/or online payments. The platform offers three pricing tiers at $0, $60, and custom pricing for Premium plans. Custom pricing is also available if your business processes more than $250k per year.⁷
With Square for Retail you have the ability to use Square’s retail point of sale application which can help your business with inventory, barcode scanning, employee time cards, invoices, and reports.
The free tier also offers software to create an online store, and inventory tools with unlimited inventory uploads. The Plus tier plan adds advanced features like detailed reporting, payroll features. Last, the Premium plan offers custom processing rates and discounts on Square Payroll, Loyalty, Marketing, and account management.
However, no hardware is included in the pricing for this point of sale system, and you’ll still incur processing fees for each purchase.
|Free||$0/month + 2.6 % + 10¢ for in person payments or 2.9% + 30¢ for online payments⁷|
|Plus||$60 per month per location + 2.5 % + 10¢ for in person payments or 2.9% + 30¢ for online payments⁷|
|Premium||Custom pricing and processing fees. Contact Square for rates.⁷|
Square for Restaurants is another point of sale system Square offers that helps restaurants process payments and manage their restaurant. They also offer this system with three pricing tier plans based on the size and needs of your restaurant.
Their free plan has no monthly cost, but Square’s standard processing fees still apply. On this plan, you get access to the point of sale system which allows you to open and enter checks, manage menus and tables, create an online store for delivery or pick-up service, team management, and customer support from 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. PST.⁸
Under the Plus plan, you get these features plus unlimited access to Square’s Kitchen Delivery System—KDS—which is a display system so your kitchen can process orders from the front of house staff.
The Plus plan also adds loads of extra features to the point of sale system to allow you to better serve a large restaurant and adds 24/7 customer support. It costs $60 per month per location plus $40/month per added POS device—along with the standard Square processing fees.⁸
The Premium plan adds discounted access to Square’s Payroll, Marketing and Loyalty services and features custom monthly pricing and processing rates.
Again, no hardware costs are included in any of these pricing plans.
|Free||$0/month + 2.6 % + 10¢ for in person payments or 2.9% + 30¢ for online payments⁸|
|Plus||$60 per month per location + $40/month per added POS device + 2.6 % + 10¢ for in person payments or 2.9% + 30¢ for online payments⁸|
|Premium||Custom pricing and processing fees. Contact Square for rates.⁸|
Square Appointments offers a point of sale and appointment scheduling system for businesses that offer professional services—like salons, repair businesses, massage and physical therapy services, etc.
With Square Appointments, you can set up a free online booking system with automated email and SMS alerts for your customers. You can also set up customer profiles that include notes and transaction and messaging history to keep on top of customer relations.
Last, Square Appointments offers staff management tools where employees can create their own accounts and manage their schedules. With this tool, you have the ability to set up an unlimited number of permissions.
The costs for the program varies based on the number of staff using the calendar. One staff calendar is free, but it jumps up to $50/month for 2-5 calendars, $90/month for 6-10 calendars, and businesses with over 10 calendars have custom pricing.⁹
|1 staff calendar||$0 + 2.6 % + 10¢ in-person processing fee⁹|
|2 - 5 staff calendar||$50/month + 2.5 % + 10¢ in-personprocessing fee⁹|
|6 - 10 staff calendar||$90/month + 2.5 % + 10¢ in-person processing fee⁹|
|11+ staff calendar||Custom pricing and processing fees. Contact Square for rates.⁹|
Square offers a number of other services and some of them have discounted pricing through higher tiered service plans. However, Square also offers these services separately, so here’s a breakdown of those fees.
Square’s Online Store feature allows businesses to set up a website that’s customizable and with unlimited inventory. The program syncs with Square’s POS system and allows you to process online payments as soon as the site is set up. The service is free with Square accounts, but there are higher paid tiers that open up other features and perks.
- Free - $0/month + 2.9% +30¢ per transaction.¹⁰
- Professional - $12/month + 2.9% +30¢ per transaction. Allows you to publish the site on a custom domain.¹⁰
- Performance - $26/month + 2.9% +30¢ per transaction. Adds customer reviews, discounted shipping labels, and email retargeting.¹⁰
- Premium - $72/month + 2.6% +30¢ per transaction. Adds lower processing rates and even higher shipping discounts.¹⁰
With Square Loyalty, you can create a customized loyalty program for your business. The system runs in tandem with Square’s point of sale system and allows you to specify how customers can earn points towards purchases.
This service runs as a ‘per location’ subscription that charges based on the number of loyalty visits per month. Square has two factors to qualify a loyalty visit:
- A customer enrolls in your loyalty program.
- A customer returns to your store and earns a point or redeems a reward.
Based on the loyalty visits the pricing plans are:
- $45 per month per location for up to 500 loyalty visits¹¹
- $75 per month per location for 501 - 1,500 loyalty visits¹¹
- $105 per month per location for 1,501 - 10,000 loyalty visits:¹¹
- Contact Square for pricing on more than 10,000 loyalty visits¹¹
Square Marketing focuses on email marketing and allows you to automatically collect emails and run campaigns from one spot. The software integrates with Square’s dashboard, so you’re able to look at customer purchase history and then target them with deals and coupons for return business.
The program starts at $15 per month and increases based on the number of customer subscriptions you get from your marketing program.¹²
Team Management is an add-on to help businesses with timekeeping. The basic program is free and allows you to set up one set of user permissions that restrict access to base level employees.
The permissions are completely customizable, but if you want more levels and additional features, the Team Plus version starts at $35 per month per location. There’s a 30-day free trial if you want to see if it’s viable for your business or not.¹³
Square Payroll offers a number of features like direct depositing, payroll tax filing, time off / sick day recording, workers comp, and timekeeping for a $29 per month base subscription plus $5 per employee per month. With that system you can support hourly wage employees, salaried employees, and flat rate payments also.¹⁴
If you only work with contractors, they offer a contractors-only plan with no monthly subscription fee at $5 per month per contractor. ¹⁴
Just know that the timekeeping is a separate feature from Team Management, so you’d have to subscribe to other services if you need more features and services.
Nope, using Square for payment processing only does not incur a monthly fee.
However, there are some services where they charge you a monthly fee such as higher tiered plans on their Retail, Restaurant, Appointment, Online Store, and Team Management services. Other services like Payroll, Loyalty, and Marketing have a baseline monthly fee.
No. Square doesn’t charge a monthly fee to use its services, but they do charge a fee on every single transaction processed using their software.
Square charges fees based on the type of transaction.
To calculate Square’s fees, note the type of transaction and multiply the percentage fee by the total amount and add the additional charge.
Revisiting the $15 burger and fries example from earlier with a standard in-person processing rate:
|$15 x 2.6 % + 10¢ = $0.49|
Again, remember that Square takes the fees from the total amount processed – including tax and tip!
Square and PayPal both have their advantages and disadvantages, and it’s up to you to determine what’s right for your business. We discussed this topic recently and laid out the pros and cons for both companies side-by-side.
Square is growing into one of the top financial services and payment processing companies in the world. The company is being heralded for its no-monthly payment policy and transparency with fees—there are no hidden fees!
There are different processing rates based on how you charge a customer—they’re listed above. And as stated, with Square, the rates are always transparent and easily calculated.
Along with processing services, Square offers a variety of other services—like marketing and point of sale systems—for different industries. Some of these services have a monthly payment at higher-tiers and include additional features and possibly discounted rates on payment processing, shipping or other services.
The bottom line is that Square is a trusted name in the payment processing business. But it’s up to you to review their prices and policies to see if they’re a good fit for your businesses.
When making a decision, remember that Square does not allow cross-border payments. If you’re doing international business, you may want to look into Wise Business. It’s a solid option to receive and send money abroad, and you can do it up to 19x cheaper at the mid-market rate.
- Square - Fees and Payments FAQ
- Square - Square Register
- Square - How much does Square cost?
- Square - Compare Square Register, Terminal, and Stand
- Square - Square Terminal
- Square - Square Stand
- Square - Square for Retail Pricing
- Square - Square for Restaurants Pricing
- Square - Square Appointments
- Square - Square Online Pricing
- Square - Square Loyalty Pricing
- Square - Square Marketing Pricing
- Square - Square Team Management
- Square - Square Payroll
All sources checked on 16 June 2021
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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